As we celebrate our 67th year of independence from centuries of Dutch rule, it is worth remembering why those who came before us fought so valiantly for our freedom. Did they give their blood and lives so that we would end up tearing ourselves apart? Did they expect that we would so easily cast aside our founding principal of Pancasila?
That mainstay, of unity in diversity – of peoples, of creeds, of thoughts – is under threat like never before. When President Barack Obama of the United States came to these shores in November 2010 and praised that embracing motto as an example to the world of how different people could live together here, many wondered if he had been following events in this country of his upbringing at all.
No one wishes to return to the days of subjugation and autocratic rule, but for a growing group – in influence and political support – that is what they appear to want. For these hardline Islamists, there can only be “one true religion,” and it is their violent usurping of Islam that they are using as a tool to gain power and cast aside anyone who does not follow their line and belief, which is to say a lot of people in this vast country.
In particular, the persecution of the Muslim sect Ahmadiyah, and the killing of their members, is fundamentally distressing for all those who claim to uphold the values that this country was built on. For those fundamentalists who call themselves Indonesian, the Constitution has little, if any, meaning. In it, it says: “The State guarantees all persons the freedom of worship, each according to his/her own religion or belief.”
Elsewhere, Christians are terrorised and intimidated and prevented from attending their places of worship, again by the hardliners, who it appears are intent on colonising the country with their own skewed brand of religion. That the Islamic-based political parties have not been overwhelmingly supported in general elections does not stop these misfits from waging campaigns of violence against sections of the population in order to further their agenda. They will not succeed.
Most people in this country of 240 million are moderate in their beliefs and outlook and will not yield to the pressures of the few. This is as it should be, as our great nation advances.